Updates: Water Mains, Park Tax and Beautification, Fire Station

2015-05-24

Water Mains

According to an exhaustive study of our roads, water mains and sewers just completed, following criteria established by Quebec, our infrastructure is in excellent shape. It is one of the best, if not the best, of all the towns on the island. Only 5% of our water mains still need work and only 15% of our roads. The condition of the sewers is less clear and will require further study. Nevertheless, we have had no sewer backup problems.

The excellent shape of our infrastructure is not surprising, as fixing it has been a priority of my administrations since 2006, when we demerged. However, it is NOT good enough. The councillors and I are particularly concerned about water mains. While we have relined most of those that were in very bad shape, there are still a number prone to breaks and even one broken main causing a flooded basement usually costs the town $100,000 (our insurance deductible).

Two thirds of the cost of the work that we have done over the past several years was covered by grants from Quebec and the Federal government. Last year, Quebec changed the rules making it more difficult to get money for water main repairs. Still, after a lot of back and forth negotiations, we are optimistic that we will have the funds to fix the worst remaining water mains this year. Next year we will probably use the grant money on some of our worst roads.

Park Tax and Beautification

Last year we increased our Park Tax from 1% to 10%. This tax is only paid by people who demolish houses. The money must be used exclusively for parks and green spaces. To date we have collected an impressive $287,000 and expect the total to reach $752,000 by the time all demolition projects in the pipeline start. Of course, every year we can expect new projects so this is a very important new source of revenue.

We are currently using the funds for beautification and other improvements to parks and green spaces. Last year our major Beautification project was Councillors (Gayton) Park. This year it will be Applewood Park. In Hampstead Park we are considering an improved tennis clubhouse (subject to final costs), more benches, garbage cans and minor improvements to the Community Centre.

Due to this tax, we will continue our park improvements and beautification of our green spaces without needing to take money from our property tax revenues.

Fire Station property

To date we have been paid $7 million by the owners of the fire station property. Originally the plan was for a 16 story luxury condo project but for various reasons sales were not sufficient to proceed. A second proposal, for a combination of townhouses and a lower rise condo building, required zoning changes which were voted down, by the residents in the area, in a referendum. Now there is a third proposal which we are considering. I have personally consulted many top developers and other experts. All have been generous with their time and advice. Over the coming months council will decide on what we should allow for the site. It will be residential and our only criteria will be what is in the best interest of Hampstead residents. I will keep you updated as this dossier evolves.

If you have any comments or questions on this topic or anything else related to Hampstead, please e-mail me at wsteinberg@hampstead.qc.ca or call me 7 days a week until midnight at my home office (514) 483-6954.


Sincerely,


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead